Tech up & cost down
Industry 4.0 in
crane technology

Extend product runtimes efficiently with smart condition monitoring solutions

Heavy loads, long periods of use, and a wide variety of weather conditions – cranes in port facilities must perform at their best. The fields of application include, amongst others: ship-to-shore cranes, bulk cargo handling cranes, RTGs, RMGs, Goliath cranes, spreaders and reach stackers.
Where there is deadline pressure and safety must be guaranteed, intelligent concepts in the form of predictive maintenance make the most sense. Whether a new project for Industry 4.0 or efficiency-driven retrofitting - our smart plastics solutions are available as universal modular systems and can be individually adapted to any system. 

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Advantages of our smart plastics solutions:

▲ Tech up
  • Extension of the maximum service life
  • Simple integration into Industry 4.0 / IIoT concepts
  • Enables safe remote control and automatic operation
▼ Cost down
  • Reduce maintenance costs through early warnings
  • Eliminate unplanned downtimes and expensive production losses
  • Space-saving design - lower installation height & no cable loop station

smart plastics in cranes

Different areas of application in the harbour ...

... always the right solution at hand with smart plastics from igus

STS cranes

Ship-to-shore cranes (STS)

Energy chains with integrated rollers reduce the friction of movement and thus reduce wear. In the latest development stage of the igus rol e-chains, use of maintenance-free, tribo-polymer plain bearings considerably lengthens the service life. Also, the new P4HD can be equipped with smart monitoring sensors. The sensor is integrated into a standard side part of the chain, which does not lead to any restrictions in the usable inner width. Our energy chain systems can be installed on all types of Ship-to-Shore cranes, whether it is a double trolley, shuttle boom or gooseneck design.


Gantry cranes (RTG / RMG)

For a long time now, igus has been driving the changes in the cable guidance systems of RTGs. Today the energy chain system is a well established cable guidance system for trolley travel, in use on numerous RTGs around the world. The heavy-duty series 4040(R)HD chain, as a gliding or roller chain version, is the preferred choice. Also the igus chainflex cables, with TPE outer jackets, have proved to be long lasting in this demanding environment. And if you want to be on the safe side, you can use the new i.Sense CF.D for the continuous condition monitoring of cable specifications. 


Automated Stacking Cranes (ASC)

Since the crane operator's workplace is moving away from the crane to the office and being responsible for several cranes at the same time - due to crane automation - the ever more modern automatic stacking cranes not only require a reliable cable guidance system, but also the possibility of being able to report the current operating status from anywhere and at any time. This is ideally achieved with the new i.Cee dashboard which can be integrated online in the Internet or on site in the local network. This means that the current operating data can be accessed either via a display on the crane, via a cloud solution or an IoT dashboard, via the REST API interface or even directly via SMS or e-mail.

Reliable condition monitoring of cranes can be so simple ... with smart plastics i.Sense

In this way, unplanned downtimes and thus enormous production losses can be efficiently avoided.

Condition monitoring | i.Sense

Condition monitoring is the easiest and quickest way to turn many igus products into a self-monitoring, smart plastics product. By attaching sensors, values (e.g.: temperature, forces, sound waves/vibrations) are measured within a previously defined limit value and give an alarm or at least an information message when they are exceeded. This information provides the basis for taking subsequent steps, such as maintenance or shutting down the system. At igus, we summarise condition monitoring under the term i.Sense ("I feel").

Predictive maintenance | i.Cee

In contrast, predictive maintenance solutions use sensors and software to create a system that enables dynamic service life calculation and optimal maintenance times. Predictive maintenance is the next step towards the implementation of a comprehensive smart Industry 4.0 system. The goal is always to maximise system and user safety and product service life. We at igus call our predictive maintenance system i.Cee (from "I see ahead").

How does predictive maintenance work at igus?

Smart networking of individual components creates the solid foundation for predictive maintenance concepts. At igus, predictive maintenance is summarised under the term i.Cee.
The central element of this system is the i.Cee software. Sensors on the energy chain, the plain bearing bush, or a linear carriage, transform products deliverable from stock into smart products. This upgrade creates the capability of determining your igus® product's maximum service life, and the i.Cee system also tells you the perfect time for servicing it. Algorithms adapt the service life and the service time to the equipment's use. The software we provide, a few sensors and the new communication module i.Cee plus II transform standard products available from stock into smart energy supply or bearing technology in no time.

You determine the manner of data transfer and access

Data transfer within your local corporate network (i.Cee:local) or on a secure cloud (i.Cee:cloud)



Your data does not leave your company network at any time, as the i.Cee software only communicates within the networks of your choice. In the process, the information spectrum ranges from a single energy chain within a machine up to a complete machine pool and its own output interface.  



With the internet-based solution, there are two ways: either the sensors transmit their data directly to the cloud, where it is made available in a protected area via a browser dashboard. Or they make a stopover via the, a so-called data concentrator. The is at your location, allowing you to adjust data exchange with the cloud at any time.

chains for cranes®

smart plastics in cranes

3D CAD portal for smart plastics

Design energy chains in the 3D CAD portal

Design intelligent energy chain systems faster. CAD models for all smart components.

Our intelligent e-chain systems are already reliably in use in hundreds of thousands of applications worldwide - from beverage machines and CNC machines to steel mills. Unsupported lengths can be bridged without problems and long travels are conceivable for the most varied of industries. 

To the 3D CAD portal

Industry 4.0: successfully implemented in practice


Heavy loads, long periods of use, and a wide variety of weather conditions – cranes in port facilities must perform at their best. And that is exactly where our energy chains and flexible cables are being used. They have proven themselves for years in more than 10,000 ports with their corrosion-resistant, maintenance-free materials and long service life. The fields of application include, amongst others: ship-to-shore cranes, bulk cargo handling cranes, RTGs, RMGs, Goliath cranes, spreaders and reach stackers. Wherever safety must be ensured and there is pressure to meet deadlines, e-chains® are a reliable, quiet alternative to busbar systems, festooning and cable drums.

Tested for real-world applications in the industry's largest test laboratory

Take a look at our test laboratory for chainflex® cables and e-chains®, where tests are run for ten billion cycles every year.
For long travels, sensors are used in e-chain® field testing.

smart plastics general overview

Insight into the complete product portfolio for Industry 4.0

Content overview:

  • Condition monitoring (i.Sense)
  • Condition monitoring products
  • Condition monitoring application examples
  • Predictive maintenance (i.Cee)
  • Application examples for predictive maintenance
  • How does data flow in the case of predictive maintenance?

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smart plastics FAQs


What are igus smart plastics? What is Industry 4.0? In our blog, you will find answers to our customers most frequent questions: